Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Treed," a Sermon/Poem on Zaccheus

Here's a morning prayer sermon I preached at the Chapel of the Apostles in Sewanee, TN on November 28, 2012.  Click here for the video.

Luke 19: 1-10


Orange-leafed trees are blown wholly free, 
their trunks exposed. All gnarls can be seen. 
Nakedness is our cold call in this season ahead 
as we wait for Christ’s coming—king and baby.

Why did Zaccheus climb the tree?
His curiosity proved costly:
Giving money to the poor was just the half
of what a dinner with the Son of Man would mean.
Did Zaccheus know that his gift could
never be enough? His holiness fell short.
And yet salvation, impossibly, came:
though he was no young and rich ruler,
who, striving for perfection, left (un)spent. 
Christ’s loving storm removes the leaves from 
even our most secreted branches.

The wind picks up. A hum of voices nears. 
Do we know who is coming? Really?
And still we hide above the hushed crowd 
hoping that our status quo will hold.
But we cannot evade his recognition 
or his terrible warm call to serve. 
There is nothing to say but yes
to set a table and feast on forgiveness.

The Lord’s presence clothes our bare weakness 
with His reckless generosity. We
respond only to learn a holy lesson:
that the giving of half our store to the poor 
must always fail some crucial test.
And yet we commit to giving more.
Sated, Zaccheus too would serve more still.

Changed, we resist Jesus’ departure
for a final ascent up the mount before
his descent into waiting Jerusalem.
Quiet, full, and with Advent’s space ahead 
we climb that sycamore again for a new view 
not to hide, but now to see need waiting 
as the generous invitation that it always is.
We need a graceful tree so we may see.